Any horse with access to grazing could be at risk of Equine Grass Sickness. This was a key message for the audience at BHS Lancashire’s Annual Review meeting last month, who heard a fascinating talk by local vet, Sarah Baker BVSc MRCVS, on this distressing and often fatal disease.
Shelley Mee, Chairman BHS Lancashire, opened the meeting with a thank you to the many local riders who had taken part in the charity's fundraising events in the last year. BHS Lancashire had fundraised for both the BHS Equine Grass Sickness Fund and the BHS Access Fighting Fund. Shelley thanked the many volunteers who made these events happen.
The Chairman also congratulated five local volunteers who had received 15 years and 20 years long service awards from the BHS: Judith Burton, Anita Knagg, Chris Peat, Elizabeth Tyson and Christine Worthington.
There was a special thank you to Suzanne Davis who is stepping down from her volunteer role on BHS Lancashire’s Committee after six years.
Updates followed on welfare, training, access and membership and an update from Karen Lewty, BHS North West Development Officer. There are now over 1,800 BHS members in Lancashire.
Sarah Baker from Oakhill Veterinary Practice in Preston, was welcomed to the meeting and gave a fascinating talk on Equine Grass Sickness. Many were surprised that this appalling disease is now occurring all over Britain.
Sarah explained a horse with signs of acute Grass Sickness would be swiftly euthanised to relieve suffering.
With no movement in the gut, the horse suffers severe colic and other symptoms, distressing for both horse and owner.
About a third of all Grass Sickness cases are chronic, where symptoms develop more slowly, with the horse losing weight and showing signs such as a tucked up stance, dry crusty nose and drooping eyelids. About half of these cases can be nursed back to health in terms of managing pain and symptoms.
Grass Sickness is an appalling disease but there is now hope of prevention in a new vaccine under evaluation in a trial launched by the Animal Health Trust and supported by the Equine Grass Sickness Fund and the BHS, a positive note on which to close the meeting.
Many thanks to Sarah Baker, Oakhill Veterinary Practice, for giving up her time to support BHS Lancashire.